Let’s talk about protecting yourself from cervical cancer.
If you’re a woman or you have a cervix,
if you’re between 25 and 74,
and if you’ve ever had any type of sexual activity,
you should have a regular Cervical Screening Test.
This is the best way to protect yourself from cervical cancer – so that you can stay healthy for yourself and your family.
It’s called cervical cancer because it develops on the cervix. Your cervix is a part of your body between your vagina and your uterus. It’s not a body part you can see, so you need to have a Cervical Screening Test to make sure everything is okay.
It’s a simple test you take every 5 years to check for a virus called HPV. This stands for Human Papillomavirus. HPV usually just gets better on its own, but it can cause cell changes that can turn into cancer.
Lots of people get HPV and may not know it, so there’s no reason to feel bad if you get it as well.
But it’s really important to find it early with a Cervical Screening Test – even if you’ve had the HPV vaccine.
To have a Cervical Screening Test, you need to make an appointment with your doctor or nurse. You might like to take a friend or family member to your appointment. You can also ask for an interpreter. It’s free and confidential. When you book your appointment, choose a day that you won’t have your period.
During your appointment, you have two safe and accurate options for how your Cervical Screening Test is done so you can pick what’s right for you.
Your first option is for your doctor or nurse to do the test for you. In a private room they will ask you to remove your underwear and lie down under a sheet. They’ll open your vagina with a speculum and use a brush to take a sample from your cervix. This will feel similar to a pap smear or pap test. It might be a little bit uncomfortable but should not hurt. You can ask to stop at any time. It will only take a few minutes. You can ask for a female doctor or nurse if you prefer and ask them any questions you may have.
Your other option is to do the test yourself using a self-collection swab. Your doctor or nurse will explain how to use the swab to take a sample from your vagina. They’ll give you a private space to do this. They can give you advice and help you if you need it.
When your Cervical Screening Test is finished, you can talk to your doctor or nurse about what happens next, and how you will get your results.